The Dallas Cowboys came away with one of the most exciting wins in recent team history on Sunday with a 38-23 thriller on the road against the Philadelphia Eagles. Not only was it a win over an NFC East rival, but it likely eliminated Philadelphia from postseason contention while keeping Dallas mathematically alive in the playoff race. However, this victory doesn’t necessarily “save” the Cowboys’ season and many are being led to believe.
The Cowboys did several things on Sunday that Dallas fans haven’t been seen in years.
First, the Cowboys scored three consecutive touchdowns using all three phases of the game. In 2:39 of game time in the second half, Dez Bryant caught a 30-yard touchdown pass to tie the game 17, then Dwayne Harris returned the first punt for a touchdown by any Dallas player this season and finally Brandon Carr came up with an early Christmas present interception that he took back 47 yards for a score.
Second, the Cowboys scored another defensive touchdown in the same game when Jason Hatcher fell on a Nick Foles fumble in the end zone. Dallas tallied 21 total points off special teams and defensive touchdowns. When’s the last time you remember that happening? I can’t remember, either.
The fact the Cowboys got a win when they needed it the most is great, but most victory-starved fans are just clinging to this game and forgetting the big picture. The fact Dallas was even in the position of a “must-win” game at this point in the season is a serious cause for concern. Even scarier is the way the Cowboys won this seemingly franchise-saving contest.
Many Eagles fans might complain that losing Michael Vick to a concussion caused the loss, but Foles played ten times better than Vick could ever have hoped to. However, two of the Cowboys’ game-changing plays came by sheer luck and one of those shouldn’t have counted along with Bryant’s touchdown. Harris’ punt return should have been called back for a block in the back by Orlando Scandrick (shocking, I know).
Bryant’s catch was an incorrect call by the officials according to the NFL‘s new rule about maintaining possession all the way through the catch. By the old rules, Bryant scored, but the ball bobbled when he hit the ground, which, by the new rule, means it should have been called incomplete. The play came on third down, so the Cowboys would have been forced to kick a field goal instead of tying the game with the touchdown.
Finally, Carr’s interception wasn’t a good defensive play; if DeSean Jackson knew how to catch a perfectly-thrown pass from Foles, that play would have resulted in a first down for Philadelphia. The pass bounced right off Jackson’s hands, ricocheted off Ernie Sims’ hip and fell right into Carr’s lap.
The Cowboys won, so all is apparently well in Valley Ranch, but the truth remains: Jason Garrett is still an awful head coach and play-caller, this is still a very mentally-weak team and the Cowboys got lucky. That’s fine; a lot of teams get lucky in the NFL, but luck isn’t going to make the 4-5 Cowboys a playoff team with opponents like the Pittsburgh Steelers, New Orleans Saints and Cincinnati Bengals left on their schedule. Oh, and don’t forget Dallas still has three divisional games left and those are no gimmies, regardless of records. The Cowboys are still mathematically in the playoff race and may very likely turn around their season, but don’t make this win something more than it really is.